Pascal: Hi everyone. Welcome to Nectara’s Conversations, where we have intimate explorations of the psychedelic wellness journey. I’m Pascal Tremblay, I’m your host, I’m the co-founder of Nectara, we're an ecosystem of support for psychedelic experiences. And today, I’m really thrilled to be joined by one of my favorite men in the world, Robin Clements, he's a breath work facilitator, he's a body worker, he's a ceremonialist, he has a doctorate in divinity, beautiful family man, and overall, just a beautiful spirit that I’ve encountered along my journey and really grateful to be able to share some of his wisdom with you today. Hi, Robin.
Robin: Hey brother, thank you for having me. It's a joy to be here with a polished gem such as yourself.
Pascal: Thank you. It takes one to know one. Robin, welcome. And you said that you'd like to share a little song with us, which is beautiful.
Robin: Yeah, I like to open with a prayer. This prayer calls in the heart of the hummingbird. And for me the prayer is really bringing in the dawn of the new day, in the blue hour of the morning when the birds start to sing, and my sister Luna. Thank you. [Foreign Language Singing]
Pascal: Thank you. Beautiful song. Can you share a bit more about the story behind the song or where you got it from, or maybe the meaning behind it? I’d love to hear more about that.
Robin: Thank you. The family from Brazil that first brought us the medicine of ayahuasca in our community in Mexico, their prayer and their place is called [inaudible] so it's really about the sun of the morning, and that prayer that there's always something new being born in us. And that's really why I dedicate my life to the breath, because we're really like a fountain, we're always regenerating on a cellular level, and we have a tendency to attach to the old ways of being, the old stories in our mind, the old chemistry and neurons firing.
But we can always make new choices and see each day with new eyes the snake sheds its skin. And in our wedding ceremony that was the song that was shared as Eden was coming to the altar, and also, that prayer of seeing each other with new eyes every day was a prayer that was shared by our brother wolf who did our making a relation ceremony. So it's one of my favorites just to bring us into that freshness of something brand new that's wanting to be born here.
Pascal: Beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing that.
So you talk about freshness and newness, and we're meeting today in this moment, but there's a whole story behind Robin, and the whole origin story of your work with the healing modalities and breath and you have a long history of exploring different modalities and getting trained in different things – I know you were a surfer at some point. I’d love to hear more about some of the history behind Robin and how you got here today in terms of how you got into this path and how it started, and, the main journey points along the way that you'd like to share.
Robin: Thank you, brother. I think once you're a surfer, you're always a surfer, and always looking for the next wave, where it's really the surf and the ocean that brought me onto my path. I went on a safari really from BC down to the tip of Baja Mexico and landed on my feet down there, and it was a few months into that journey that I met my first teacher, put me back together from a humbling that I got a bit of a spanking from the ocean. I was really still quite lost as a gentleman, and, yeah, needed to find a daily practice and he brought me under his wing, and I lived an apprentice with him for three years. He was a phenomenal magician, a chiropractor, and taught me postural integration, which is an advanced offshoot of Rolfing.
And within the first couple weeks of training with him, I started doing body work, and really landed on my feet in a place where I had very low overhead to make ends meet, and I was able to continue to be a surf bum, but did a few massages a week to maintain my livelihood. And that place in the world became really a hub for many different teachers to come, and I’ve been blessed with, especially, the 23 years that I spent down there, blessed with many amazing teachers, ceremonialist, plant medicine teachers, but also body work teachers.
And ultimately, within the first few years I met Judith Kravitz, the founder of Transformational Breathing, and she really became my earth angel, and started to help me peel the layers in my heart. I had open heart surgery when I was four years old, and it was painful for me to breathe into my chest at all, until I was in my early 20s, when I started to find a circular conscious connected breathing medicine. I started to integrate some deep layers of catharsis, and obviously pain and suffering that's recorded in the memory of the water in our blood from lifetimes and generations, those that came before us.
And it came really clear to me, when I had my first big awakening of being surrounded by a circle of light beads, and being completely immersed in light that this is what I was here to do, and I offered my whole life to it. Around the same time I was closing a cycle of four years of a relationship with a beautiful Mexican beloved, and my cat passed away, and I just really wanted to make a deep offering to the feminine, which I was realizing at the time was my own body, that I wasn't missing the feminine, that I could nourish myself every day and honor that feminine aspect of life, which is the earth element.
So things really started to open up then when I got a lot more serious about my path and stopped partying so much, and I carried that tradition as well in coming back again and again to British Columbia and seeing that my friends and family were still using the same tools that we were given, which were really just drugs and alcohol and music and our social life. I realized that it's really easy to stay in a rut, it's really easy to continue to live habitually the same way day after day and not to make any changes, because we're creatures of habit, we like to stick to the things that we know best, and it takes courage to go into a plant medicine journey and to drop into your breath in a one-on-one or in a circle ceremony and to start to feel a little bit more deeply.
And we've learned a lot more about the breath in the last 10-15 years than we have in the history of what we know about the body and the brain. But it works really well to turn us on in a very whole and complete way, but it's also very gentle and clean, and it's accessible and available to everyone. You don't have to make a pilgrimage to the jungle to receive that same neurochemistry or similar neurochemistry of how the synopsis can connect, and the frontal cortex comes alive, and we start to really open our channels in a way that makes us a clear conduit for what wants to come through us in this life.
So yeah, I was really blessed with a lot of teachers, and it continues to humble me. Every single person that shows up in circle is my teacher, it's been my greatest guide, the breath. I’ve had many years of working with Mother Ayahuasca, Grandmother, but she always told me that my altar was the breath, and that I’d found what I was looking for, and it was already there from the very first ceremony that was just a real sweetness. Because I’d done several years of breath work, she was really sweet with me because there was a lot of purification in my blood that had already happened, and she just kept reminding me to keep doing what I was doing.
So yeah, it's a joy to be able to be humble enough just to meet someone where they're at, and to listen to their story, and what they're bringing, and what's holding them back. And that's the knack that I’ve developed that you experienced in circle with me of just really being good at showing people where they're getting in the way, and the breath is a really good reminder and tool that starts to show us our patterns of resistance, how we might be pushing or clinging or controlling or contracting in the body.
And yeah, we can talk more about what that looks like to become a facilitator, but to learn some of those techniques of holding space for someone like a midwife where we know that there's something beautifully intelligent that's already moving, but we also start to witness and mirror back the ways that we might be creating too much too soon, or we might be creating some suffering or an imbalance in the body that we can correct with our breathing pattern. And it's very different than a plant medicine journey because you're much more in control, because you're the one that's moving the quality of how the medicine is moving. Right?
There's many different ways to breathe, and a lot of people have developed a bit of an aversion to western breath work, because when rebirthing came, it was, we put in a western approach to it, and we were trying to get people really high, really fast, and to move through their emotions; and as we learned more and more about trauma release work, and that when we're stirring the pot, things come up from deeper levels of our consciousness or subconsciousness, and the survival mechanism kicks in, because that fight or flight response kicked in when we first experienced, our ancestors experienced those traumatic occasions in our life.
And we learn to shut down, and to go into defense, because that's the pattern that's saved our life in the past, it's hardwired in our brain, and in our nervous system. So it takes a little bit of coaching at first to be guided into learning how to soften into discomfort, how to get real and authentic with our emotions, and it's phenomenal, the miracles and healing and clarity that can come even from one session.
There's a psychiatrist that studied with us many years ago who quoted in my teacher's book which is Breathe Deep Laugh Loudly by Judith Kravitz, and he says that one session of conscious connected breathing can be equal to a year of psychotherapy. So if you look at the modality of psychotherapy and the tools that someone who's well studied in psychotherapy, they can be quite limited because you're mostly working with the cognitive brain. You're mostly working with the thinking mind and the stories, and we can just continue to talk about the story and reiterate the chemistry of what we experienced and how bad it feels.
But when you drop into the breath, it actually goes to the precognitive areas of the brain, not so much just the limbic system, which is the reptilian consciousness, but opens us up into our higher potential prefrontal cortex and gets the whole brain working together. So when we really come into our power in that way, we find that we do have what we need to move through some of those heavy tendencies that have been holding us back. And I think one of the things in the West is that we've lost the power of ritual, we literally made...
Pascal: I was just going to talk about that, like, where does ceremony come into this journey of Robin, and at what point did you connect with that, and how did it change your approach to your path, and just the work you're doing, because having sat with you ceremony is embedded into everything you're doing, and there's so much intention and meaning that is built and safety that is created out of that sense of ceremonies, I'd love for you to expand on the word ceremony and what it means for you as a philosophy of life.
Robin: Thank you. I've been really blessed to just be drawn to ceremony. Mexico is a place where ceremony is a way of daily life. You can go to a sweat lodge and enjoy ceremony in almost any little town. It's part of the culture there, the sweat lodge was more of a household spot treatment, and so when people were ill, they would go into the sweat lodge to, not just purify, but also to receive the medicines from the tea that were – the herbs that were put in the water specific to whatever ailment that they had.
So in Mexico, I was able to sweat at least once a month, and that way of connecting with the elements and deepening our relationship with life was very new to me, but it also felt very familiar. And I developed a bit of an authority complex cause my father was a police officer when I was born, and I had a lot of doctors around me. And I knew at a young age that there was some rules in the legal system that really didn't make sense. Obviously, the initial instructions were there for us to walk gently and do no harm, but a lot of the legal system that's been manipulated for financial gain or whatever is behind that.
And when I found the ways of the circle, of walking in a certain direction, placing things in the fire in a way that you're not just throwing them, but with intent, there's many teachers in my heart that have just reminded me to open things in a conscious way. One of the things we can – one of the ways we can open sacred space, for example, and what we say, call in the directions, they're already there, we're calling ourselves into sacred space, it's just to simply make a sound in those directions, whether it be the cardinal four directions first. Generally, we start in the east, south, west, north, you can just take a moment and use your voice in those four directions, and then, to the sky, to the earth, and to your heart, and that's a really effective but simple way to open sacred space.
So there's many ways to be in ceremony, right? And as Nectara likes to say, every day is a ceremony, and when you really start to see how some of those elders that have walked that way and learned that way from their elders, they really do live life as a ceremony, they're able to connect with the elements. If you go to a place like Bali, there's offerings every morning that are made to the Earth, there's offerings every evening that are made to the heavens.
This morning I had the opportunity of being invited by a First Nations elder that we just connected with in our new land here in Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island; he really is the chief of the Cowichan Tribes, and he came up to the river, close to where we live, and invited us to join him just to pray for the waters. I was thanking him for the way that he showed up, and gave a traditional welcoming to my Mexican Peyote elder that came a couple of weeks ago when I saw him the other day, and he said, it's important to continue to bless the land, as I mentioned that was a huge blessing for us and for the land. He said, in a few days, I'm going to bless the waters up there, and I’d like you to join me.
So to consider that these ceremonies were taken away from and literally made illegal by the authorities from the native people they were literally jailed, and they had to hide their ceremonies. That's why the water drum came to be, because the authorities could come to someone's ceremonial house, and if they just saw a bowl and some leather skin, they didn't see a drum, so they weren't doing ceremony. But at any time they could take some yarn and seven stones and tie that into a drum, and that became the way that they prayed, and that's how the water drop came about as a way to conceal their ceremonies. And the Native American Church, for example, came about because they had to make it a religious act, they had to open a church in order to be able to pray, because of the ways that they were controlled.
So a lot of that is coming around full circle, and it's a real privilege and an honor to work, maybe especially, with the First Nations elders up here, because of how they've been quite not closed off, but they've been very careful in how much they share their medicines because the white people have been doing nothing but taking from them.
And they haven't wanted to give much back, but those elders that have really done a lot of integration work with all of their rites of passage, have been welcoming more and more the whole rainbow family in, and our elder that just passed away recently was one of those special beings who brought a lot of white people into a sweat lodge, and, of course, it was beneficial for him over the years. But we just had a really beautiful closing of a sweat lodge that we built for him in Squamish last weekend, and his relatives were there. Some of the teachings that were shared there were shared in a way that they were asked not to be shared online. And some of those things I have been asked not to share unless they're in person.
And the Lakota tradition, for example, is an in-person teachings. There's no written teachings about the Lakota way, but there's opportunities more and more in any part of the world to surround ourselves with good elders and people that have been in ceremony. We don't need to have plant medicines to be in ceremony, right? We're always working with the fires, we cook with the fire every day; we are water, we're always working with water; we are the earth and we breathe the air.
So to deepen our relationship, the Lakotas say everything is about relationship, and I find that breath is our most fundamental relationship. And that's a really effective but simple way to invite people into ceremony without needing to even say that it's ceremony. We can just gather and organize a positive intention and create a comfortable space that feels safe and say a few words that brings us into the heart and life becomes ceremony, yeah. But it's a different meaning for all of us, a different experience for all of us.
Pascal: You talk about this ceremony of breath, and we talked about every day being a ceremony, really every breath we're taking is a small portable ceremony that's accessible to all. And what I love the most about breath work is, when you touched on it, it's it really gets down to the ground zero of like our being and how we're interfacing with life itself, which I find fascinating and so powerful. And for people out there that might not be aware of what breath work is, can you share a bit more about what it is and some of the science behind it?
Robin: Thank you. As you said, it's our first and our last ceremony here in this life, and we can go for quite some time without those other things that sustain us, but we can't go for very long without our breath. But generally, we breathe in a very limited way, generally people use about 20-30% on average of the respiratory system; and there's certain areas that just don't open in the respiratory system, unless we consciously sit down or lay back and begin to feel how the breath wants to open a little bit more thoroughly.
So one of the things that people don't realize about our breathing is that it directly affects the endocrine system. So our endocrine system is the glandular system, they're a ganglia of neurons and networks of chemistry that really influence our blood chemistry, our hormone chemistry, and we can very quickly and very easily upgrade our hormones from the hormones of stress that are toxic, adrenaline and cortisol, specifically, to feel and experience more serotonin, more dopamine, more oxytocin, and all of these life giving, regenerating hormones.
The chemistry in the brain and effects on the nervous system, we keep learning more and more. The ability to deepen the flow of our cerebral spinal fluid incredibly washes and cleanses our brain chemistry. One of the things that we've been learning more about Alzheimer's and other inflammatory symptoms that come from inflammation in the body, which is not just poor diet but stress and how it shuts certain areas down, is that when the breath opens and deepens our cerebral spinal flow, it's incredibly beneficial for concussions, for Alzheimer's, for brain fog, for getting the chemistry in the areas of the brain that have been inactive to be active and circulating again, and this will open up the things.
For me, I like to feel that when I’m really turned on and tuned in, the information that comes in is not from the thinking mind, it's more of a whole body, aha, when you get, you start receiving information, and it's coming through, and you're activated in the breath, or you're just open and grounded in the breath. We keep learning more and I’m fascinated to do actually more case studies, and our team in Bali who studied with us is actually doing a lot more scientific study with different probes, and case studies based on not just cognition, but how receptive we can be to new information.
The thing that continues to come up in Breathwave training is when we look at people's symptomology and how we hold ourselves back, in the west, I think the main core wound is our worthiness. There's so much competitive nature in our upbringing and in the ways that we're schooled with the ways that we're tested that we lose our power, we lose our confidence in ourselves, and we find ourselves feeling unworthy of who we are and what we have to bring to this light. And in a very short people, very short period of time, people can come into the breath, and those self-limiting stories, really have very little significance as we start to experience more of our power.
There's many different ways to breathe, but we've brought more of a gentle approach to breath work as Breathwave, and founding Breathwave was really just a natural process of evolution for me, out of the transmission of breath foundation. The transmission of breath foundation is very thorough, incredible training program that weaves in body work with sound healing and rebirthing to make the experience much more well-rounded, but I feel like there is a bit of a bedside manner there that was lacking a little bit more humility in the ceremonial approach to really just meeting people where they're at.
And one of the main things that I continue to see in people's experience is that we start to notice how we come up against our own resistance. And as we open our consciousness and we circulate more vital life energy, because we're really working with the fire element, the breath activates life force energy and how it moves. And that electricity is felt as vibration when we start to breathe a little bit more dynamically. And what that does is it raises our vibrational frequency, and our whole electromagnetic field, and that starts to circulate more chemistry through all of our extremities. And we particularly, when we're new to this particular technique, experience vibration in the hands and the face as tingling and numbness, as there's a lot more power moving.
And once people get on beyond the initial stages of some fear that might arise from that power that we are, and we continue to circulate that wisdom of life, that life giving power, we start to notice where we meet our own resistance, and that's where we show up as facilitators. It's because of the ways that the stress response is ingrained in our psyche and patterned in our nervous system, we start to learn how we pendulum between defense and openness, and the more that we lean into any discomforts or feelings, we also learn that we can relax and surrender, and that relaxation response is really the key component to breath work.
So essentially, the main three basics of conscious connected breathing are to enliven your in breath, relax the out breath, and connect the rhythm of your breathing without a pause. You can do that for just a minute and you've completely changed this state of your nervous system, and you're starting to circulate more blood chemistry through all of your organs because of the benefits of that safety response. When you tell the body that you're safe and comfortable, it frees up all sorts of intelligence and turns it inward, as opposed to being in a stress response to where we're focused our energy outwards, and a lot of intelligence in the way of our chemistry is shut down in our digestion and in our extremities, and we're just working mostly in the limbic system, which is circulation straight to the brain because that's priority, or else we would die.
Once we really come into and relax into ourselves in a way that keeps the breath circulating, it's a very unique and personal experience, but the science that we are understanding more and more is that the body starts to work together in wholeness, essentially; and we can see this in the way that the brain chemistry turns on, in the way that the nervous system regulates towards parasympathetic, and how that starts to free up our digestion, and then, we start to process and integrate some of those tendencies that we've been clinging to or holding on to.
So I’ve seen it to be the most effective medicine that I’ve worked with for myself, and I’ve seen people go through two-week retreats of medicine ceremony and then experience some breath, and it helps integrate the whole process, but it might even be more profound and more effective for them, because you're also learning something that you're taking home, and it's so self-empowering to realize that you've always been given everything that you needed from the start,
and sure, plant medicines have their place, and I love and appreciate the benefits and the miracles and the healing that people experience with them, everything has its place in the medicine wheel, but my prayer is to bring breath into all communities and into the school system, into the educational system for the doctors, and that people are prescribed conscious connected breathing to, whether it's a heart condition or diabetes or a sore back, we can circulate the breath and certain symptoms that we've been crippled by can be a thing of the past in a short period of time. It just takes a little bit of willingness to have a daily practice and things keep getting better the more that we tune in and take care of ourselves and fill our own cup.
Pascal: One thing that you shared during the training that I love is this idea that there's a loving ocean of air surrounding us at all times, and that it's up to us to open up the channels and the receptivity to actually welcome that loving ocean of air around us. And I found that a very beautiful and poetic saying, but it also shows the power of the breath in terms of addressing the root causes of how we interface with life itself.
And the quality of our life is reflected in our breath pattern is something you've shared before the trauma that we've had is reflecting our breath pattern, our fears are reflecting our breath pattern, our wins and loves are reflecting our breath pattern. And this idea of working on that breath pattern, and then, working on ourselves externally to receive the ocean of air is two very powerful surface areas to explore on our healing path. I can't think of anything more powerful than looking at those things.
Robin: Yeah, thank you. What arises for me is some of the things that even a lot of breath facilitators overlook, and it's grounded in the breathing pattern. For example, if someone has some heartbreak, it's very common to shut the breath down in the chest cause you don't want to feel up into those emotions of heartbreak in the heart. If someone experiences some sexual trauma at any age, it's common to not want to feel, and therefore not to breathe in the lower energy centers. And it's really not rocket science, but very simple, as a facilitator to look at the wave of breath and see where it's moving in the body.
So once we've established a circular rhythm that's relaxed and connected, we start to witness and notice where the breath is moving in the body, and is there areas where the breath hasn't been moving and we've been avoiding. And as the breath starts to move in, like you say, those winds, that ocean of air starts to circulate, it also upgrades the chemistry, and we start to get some more tingling, might even be experienced as some heaviness, because that's the law of entrainment that, when two fields of energy come into contact, the lower energy comes up to match the higher frequency, so you're circulating this very high vibrational universal frequency of air that's turning on the body's chemistry.
And yes, it's common to feel into what that pain feels like in the heart when the heart was broken, and to grieve is a gift. In the Mayan tradition, they grieve as a community, they get messy when they grieve in a proper way. And some people in today's society of fast pace and business relations, just get busier and avoid what wants to be felt, they might start medicating with more alcohol or suppressing the emotions that want to come up when one of their loved ones pass away. But to come together as a community, to come together as a family, to hold each other in our grief, to move those emotions is a way to honor the life that we shared with those people, and that pain of loss, and existentially our fear of death.
And that's one of the beauties that have helped some people feel through is just the crippling nature of grief, of losing someone, especially if it's a daughter or a son from an overdose, for example, to be able to feel into our own shame and guilt and to integrate what David Hawkins calls the lowest frequencies in the emotional scale, and give ourselves permission to feel those things, and ultimately come back to accepting ourselves in the situation and forgiving ourselves for what we might have done differently.
It puts those emotions and those thoughts, those self-limiting behaviors beside, and we can come into life again. And that's one of the greatest feelings of fulfillment that I experience continually sharing in this path is giving people their life back, helping them find some balance again, and coming back into their joy, coming back into their purpose and what they're here to share in a very full way, just by filling their cup, but also by deeply emptied, right?
Pascal: And you've worked through the years with some pretty deep cases of health issues or emotional psychospiritual issues can you share a few stories around some of the people that breath helped and what transformed in them during the process?
Robin: Yeah, thank you. Countless people have come to Breathwave, and they've been on a whole list of different medications, and had different symptomology. And we've had some medical doctors move through the training, and they've affirmed and confirmed for me that I don't have to be so involved or interested of what medications people are taking, and what the side effects are, but what's the underlying emotion that's there. Because the medical system tends to band aid certain things to just mask the symptoms. But anyone knows after years of taking medication that they're not really feeling better, they're just feeling numb.
And eventually, people are drawn to wanting to dive a little bit deeper into that feeling. And yeah, countless stories of people starting to delete the things on their list of medications, but that's also not up to me – as they see their physician more and they start to see that their blood chemistry and the hormonal chemistry and the symptoms are getting better, maybe their psychosomatic health and their positivity, all of those things continue to improve. I’ve seen a lot of people completely get off of medication, and also dropping pounds of weight. Some people come in quite overweight, and over the years, they continue to just let go of layers, and that also lets go of pounds of weight that they've been holding, and literally we become lighter.
There's a particular woman that I'm thinking about without sharing names as you ask for a personal story, and she's one of our superheroes, I would say now, as a guide and a facilitator. She just completed her third level of the ceremonial training and I met her, I was brought to her home when her daughter died of a fentanyl overdose. And she was crippled, she was having a hard time finding her will to continue to move on and live, as she had her own ideas of how she maybe wasn't there enough, and those personal thoughts and feelings that come through. But gradually, she was a phenomenal yoga teacher to begin with, she really had the courage to continue to feel through the waves of grief.
For anyone that loses someone in that way, the waves just keep coming, there's not much you could say to someone to make them feel better; but to help them feel, and to help them open, I’ve just been astounded and blessed by her presence and her courage to continue to show up and move through those layers of pain that she's experienced by losing her own daughter.
And she's just amazing, she's a channel of wisdom, incredible teacher, an amazing facilitator, phenomenal yoga teacher; and she shared a podcast with me actually that we called From Grief to Reverence, and she says that Breathwave gave her really the reverence to connect with life again, that connection with all things in a way that she knows that, and she's seen messages and even physical presence of certain animal spirits that show up, that her daughter reminds her that she's there, she's in all things, she's always present and with her, and that things just change form.
So that's just one story. There's some sensitive circumstances with breath that I’m very gentle with, and those mostly being a history of psychological imbalance, particularly it's schizophrenia, and some of those very fragile states of mental stability are not easy to work with. But the breath is also an effective way to just give people a way to relax. And I find that's one of the main humbling reminders that I give facilitators because a lot of western facilitators experience personal transformation for themselves, and then, they want to take people to a certain place as quickly as possible to help fix them.
And we have to be very careful with an agenda like that, because we don't know how much people are carrying and what they're going to do when they come up against it. And as we give people a much more gentle, gradual approach, it's much easier for people to manage what comes up, because it doesn't all come up at once. And I think that's the existential fear that people can have when they come to breath work, it's what am I going to open up when I really start to feel, and I've seen time and time again that people always have what they're capable to move through what they're feeling in the moment, and then it's like peeling an onion, there's just little layers by layers and sometimes a bigger layer, and we feel lighter and we feel more alive, and we feel more at joy and more at peace as a result of 20 minutes or an hour of breathing.
And when we're in training, we breathe twice a day, as and being held by a circle is maybe the most magical component in that experience is that quality human connection of hearing everyone else's stories, that we're not alone in our suffering, and that we all experience suffering, and that we all have thoughts of self-doubt etc. And then, throughout the week, we just lift each other up, and eventually, we're laughing and dancing and cuddling, and feeding each other as a family by the third or fourth day that when we move into the heart.
So it's such a magical and simple, gentle, clean medicine, that I will always travel with. I haven't considered smuggling, because they make the really good plant medicines illegal, and I haven't considered traveling with any of those things, because I don't have to. And no matter where we go, we can find those things, and I'm not one to travel and serve other medicines, but I've seen how difficult it can be for those elders and those people that are medicine carriers, and how there's a precaution every time you cross a border, because those things have been made illegal because of how effective they are.
Even though they've tried to mask us, and make our breath limited, we carry it with us wherever we go. And no matter where we go, there we are, and we have the breath within us to be able to wind down, turn within, self-regulate, and integrate, and it brings live whatever whenever it needs to come alive. There's a tendency for people to come in, and to focus on what wants to be pushed away or healed, but some of the teachings that I’ve learned of the power of the mind is to really get clear about what it is that we want to feel more of, and then, we focus on that; and what we don't want just continues to fall away. And a big part of creating a sacred space is developing a clear intention of giving yourself some orientation on the journey. And then, once you're in the journey, you let go the intention and enjoy the ride, yeah.
Pascal: You mentioned earlier, talked about the gentler approach of Breathwave, and we've all seen the emergence of breath work in the mainstream in a little bit in the last five years or two years, or something like that around very activating breath work. I was talking to a friend just a few weeks ago and he went to a consciousness festival, and he was like, every event and facilitator had a breath work before the event, and it was all that, come on breathe harder, come on, let's do it, all kind of breath work, which has benefits, but it's also a contrast to the Breathwave approach.
Do you feel like people have developed – for some people, have developed a bit of an aversion towards breath work, because they feel like it's so intense and stuff gets bubbled up to the surface and maybe they don't have the same ceremonial container that can hold that, what would you like to share around that kind of popularity of very activating breath work, what does it say about us?
Robin: Yeah, thank you. Everything has its place, and different things work for different people. What James Nestor calls Breath Plus in the book Breath, really gives a bad name to mouth breathing, because of the Western approach to it. And yes, we can create too much too soon. I heard stories about rebirthing arriving in the 60s and 70s, and there were groups of people, and as soon as someone was emotional at all, they would pounce on them and get them breathing. And some people love drama, and they feel like when they're being dramatic, they're getting something done, and they're integrating, and there's a place for authenticity. But I feel like what I’ve seen in some styles of breath work, the drama and the fighting our emotions is unnecessary and it's ineffective.
I love to offer a more gentle approach, and when something deep wants to emerge, it can be very primal and very big, and it can be very sweet and very swift – things can move very swiftly and quickly. We can use our voice and even our movement to clear things in seconds that come up as an idea or an old story. Or we can choose to go into that story and cling to it, and suffer a little bit more, and sometimes people are encouraged to embellish an emotion when it arises, and that's more of the holotropic approach.
And there's definitely a benefit to that, and it obviously works for some people, but I feel like when someone is performing a little bit too much drama, and I feel it's not serving them, I’ll just remind them that they're here to be at peace to throw in the towel and that it doesn't have to be so personal. Even if we look at pathology and what we would might call someone pathological, it's really just an identification with one of the grooves in the mind, which is a story, and we can hop out of that story and create a brand new story at any given time.
There's a fascinating study that was done with a schizophrenia patient, and each and every personality that they had a totally different chemical makeup. And, it's very easy to completely shift your breath experience, whether it's quite motivated and aggressive, you're going to have a very different experience within a few minutes, because you get a lot more moving.
So we found that actually when people soften and they continue to circulate the breath, it can be dynamic still, but the key component to any trauma release work is the relaxation component, and that safety of relaxation and the nervous system for something to be able to complete, not just in the body, but in the brain. If we're just in a stress response, an old story can be triggered, but it's not going to be healed, because we're still in defense with that particular story and what's happening in the body. It's not until we relax and the nervous system lets go, that the story can be let go of, and the energy of the story can be released and cleared.
And yeah, I could talk a little bit more about the nature that I just really condone peace, and I’ve seen a lot of drama and a lot of breath circles. And just the other day I had a facilitator call me and just check in because they brought their girlfriend, which was new to breath work to a breath circle, and there was a lot of screaming and yelling going on, and she had a very intense upbringing of verbal emotions from her parents or whatever, and the house container, and it was very triggering for her. It was hard for her to relax into the experience.
And the more that odd time that I've spent with other elders and in ceremony, there's a certain quality of discernment that comes in, when you show up in circle and you're in circle with other people that are doing deep emotional work on the spiritual path, there's a certain quality of respect. And in some circles we call it noble silence, but in breath work we like to encourage people to use their voice to move energy, and that can be done very effectively with just a good quality tone, that's a vibrational quality of expression, and it doesn't have to be screaming or yelling at all.
When a scream comes through, it can come through very authentically, and it's like a primal release, and it usually comes through the women, and all credit and respect given the women have had their power taken away more than the men. And to hear them and to feel them come into their rage, and to come into their power in an authentic way is a beautiful thing; it ripples beauty and strength and love and life into the circle and into the field, and I’m all for that. But when someone's fighting and coughing and making sounds that feel like they're not really serving someone, there's a quality to the energy where I can pick up where it's just looping, and it's not serving the circle, it's not serving the person that's breathing. And I’ll usually ground people down a little bit and get them to soften, and we find that the softer we get, it takes us deeper into ourselves; and it's been said that the stronger we get, the softer we become.
So there's a gentleness and a softness to the quality of the musculature in the body when we're breathing in a good way to where we're not contracting when we let go. We're completely relaxing our musculature, and that surrender and that release, it tells the body, the brain and the nervous system, that there's nothing threatening us, that we're safe, that we can rest in the cave, that we can integrate, we can be nourished by life. It's a very different experience than breathing in an exaggerated way and forcing out the exhale. It's impossible to hyperventilate, if you're relaxing you're out breath.
We receive mostly carbon dioxide –sorry, we receive mostly oxygen on the in breath, and we release mostly carbon dioxide. So if we start to force or control the release of the out breath, there's an imbalance in our blood chemistry that starts to create too much alkalinity, which shows up as tension through alkalosis, and that can be really uncomfortable. Or there's a shift in the blood brain barrier between oxygen in the brain, and it can take us also into a really contracted state if we're controlling the breath.
So essentially, the remedy, if we're experiencing any type of [inaudible] any type of tightness in the body is to be aware of that tightness, and to notice how we can consciously relax that area. And there's usually something that's stirring, and I like to bring this in this analogy just to close this question. Some of the Zen meditation philosophers will say that meditating is like letting the mind settle like a glass of muddy water, and you let the mind settle so much that any of that settlement follows to the bottom of the glass, and you have a clear glass, a clear mind to look through, like a clear lake, yeah. I like to think of Breathwave more as stirring the pot and you're pouring in fresh new water, new life force into the glass while you're stirring the pot.
And as we open ourselves up, just as you mentioned, the ocean of air, you're allowing all life to pour into you as you breathe openly. And what that does is it circulates new, fresh life force, vital oxygen that we need to regenerate on a cellular level. And yes, it'll bring things up to the surface, it makes the glass of water a little bit muddy at first, but as you pour more fresh water into that glass, eventually you also have a clear glass of water without the mud or the settlement at the bottom of the glass.
Not to say that we heal everything, the deeper patterns that are most challenging in anyone's life, we carry those things with us as teachings. We don't get rid of them. But we integrate the heaviness and maybe the constraint that those things have on our life or on our throat. It's like taking the hand off of your own throat, so you can breathe freely. And then, realizing that those circumstances that we were given at a young age, or the particular specific traumas in our life, also gave us our most important teachings, and maybe, for some of us, our greatest medicine to be there and hold space for others.
So yes, I condone live open breath the breath is alive, but it's relaxed. That's the key in this experience is doing less, and achieving more, the Zen way. But it's very different than just being with what is, which we could identify meditation, just being with what is, the breath is much more active, and it's then a new meditation cause we can really get engaged with ourselves, but we can just breathe in a really gentle way and regulate our nervous system, and it's super beneficial for five or 10 minutes every day. If we want to go more into the transpersonal domain, then breathe that way for a little bit more than 15 or 20 minutes and you're starting to circulate a lot more chemistry and you're turning your brain on in a way that plant medicines do in a very similar way.
Pascal: You like to say feel the emotion, don't become the emotion? You said that during the training more than once, and I like that. Let's talk a bit about planned medicines and psychedelics in general and how can breath work support people in journey while they're exploring these different medicines especially for integration, like, where does breath work fall into kind of the toolbox that people can have?
Robin: Thank you. First I'll touch on preparation. Preparation in regards to any ceremony is really important to prepare the ground of your being to receive, which includes clearing your blood chemistry, specific plant medicines, it's important to put certain things aside. So the grandmother, for example, doesn't have to do that work in ceremony, which can be very uncomfortable. For example, just if people don't listen to the invitation to stop drinking coffee before they have an ayahuasca ceremony can be a crippling headache throughout the whole night unless you put those things aside for four or five days so your body can clear those things from your brain chemistry, and therefore you prepare in a good way.
So the breath is probably the most beneficial way to prepare, because you're eliminating the toxins that are in your blood with your breathing. We eliminate about 70% of the toxins that are in the body through our breathing, in fact. So to enhance, to double or triple the capacity of your breath, enhances your ability to detox. And to turn on your chemistry, to clear the mind, to open your consciousness before you receive a powerful plant teacher is really good idea. And you're going to have a much more positive experience from those teachers, if you're already in a good place, within yourself, not to say that we're always going at being in a good place when we go to ceremony, but we can prepare a little bit with some breath.
And even just that nervous system regulation is going to help us feel a little bit more grounded, we're not so anxious or nervous about what we're going to get from the ceremony, cause grandmother likes to pull us by the ear and tug us around a little bit, and show us what we haven't been looking at, and she can kick our ass sometimes, and to prepare ourselves a little bit with breath is important.
The integration afterwards, and even during, I don't recommend that people connect their breathing when they're in ceremony, because there's already a powerful spirit that's working with you. But definitely after, for the few days after a ceremony, doing a full breath session or just short intervals of breathing every day is going to be incredibly helpful for integrating what's in your bloodstream, what's in your consciousness. Because there is so much subconscious story that the medicines are really good at turning on our brain chemistry in a way that helps us see things in a much more whole way from a different perspective, as opposed to personalizing and clinging to certain things, we have a tendency to project onto others, things that weren't right about circumstances, but we come into much more maturity with plant medicines and, of course, with breath.
So to be able to combine a journey, whether it's just one ceremony of a powerful plant teacher and integrate that with breath work is incredibly effective, and we see more science of it, but essentially, it's the wholeness of the brain working together, the nervous system regulation, the integration of some of the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that arise during ceremony.
And it's a very personal thing, but we always love to – and I work with a community out in Quebec who always has a breath circle after their plant medicine journeys, and sometimes people get more through the breath than they do through the whole night of a plant medicine journey. And I find it astounding, and it continues to amaze me really in breath training. In one session, people can bring through some clarity or some healing and some things in their life that are similar to what people would speak to after a whole night of working with a plant medicine.
Pascal: I feel I got more out of two weeks of training with you than I did years of plant medicine work. It felt deeply integrative, and that's what I love about breath work so much is that you can integrate that into the moment, and not just mentally, but also physically and spiritually it's anchored inside your being really because you're feeling, you're rewiring things in your nervous system that you can feel right away. And it just brings so much clarity to the journeys that I've done with psychedelics by far the most practical and powerful modality I’ve experienced.
Robin: Thank you. Yeah, I've heard that time and time again, of people that have had a long path of working with plant medicines and they experience breath and maybe eventually people come around full circle to ground into the fact that we are the medicine and everything, of course, still has its place, and I love to embrace any opportunity, not too often, but a few times a year to be in a plant medicine journey as well, because there's a different thing that happens in the brain and in ourselves with plant medicine's journey, than what it does with breath. But plant medicines aren't for everyone, but I can guarantee you that anyone that's breathing can improve their life by improving their breathing. Right?
And maybe there's a lot of, I want to say, a lot of leaning towards plant medicines, they're really popular right now, maybe because we're a little bit lazy, we don't really want to do the work for ourselves. Sure, it takes courage to step into ceremony, but it's a little bit more work when you do that work yourself. And some people would say – I don't totally agree with this – but some people say that you're not going to fully own the work that you do in some plant medicine journeys.
But you're going to own that if you do that work yourself with your breathing, and I say, I don't totally agree with that because I’ve seen miracles. I’ve seen people heal cancer with certain plant medicines and gotten a lot of deep work. The key is to integrate the teachings that we get from those teachers into our life, or else, I've also seen a bit of a spiritual addiction to where people are looking for the next heightened state of awareness in order to get some clarity, and they're just hoping and looking for the next ceremony.
But breath is something that reminds us that every day is a ceremony, and you can really open up and circulate that chemistry we are and become the medicine to move about your life with a whole heart, with a full cup, and that it's okay to have an empty cup and to notice when you're overextending yourself when you have to take a bit of a vacation. A vacation can be five minutes these days, especially when you got little ones. We cherish those times that we get now to be able to spend an hour with ourselves, but we also make it a priority, my wife and I, to give each other that space, or else we don't have as much patience as, being a father.
Pascal: What's your vision for the future – you mentioned earlier having breath education or breath practices and hospitals and schools what does that look like for you?
Robin: Thank you. I feel like what we're really leaning towards is not the medical advancements of technology, of what we have available to us, but to utilize those things for the right purposes. But what we're really leaning towards is tapping into the potential that we are, what would it look like in the future for me is that you go and see more of a witch doctor than your medical doctor, and they really sit with you as an individual and ask you, have you been dancing, have you been praying, have you been breathing well, where are you at in your daily life, what quality of food are you eating.
These things are quite common sense to most people that have been doing the work for many years now, but there's also an acceptance that I find with the people that I surround myself with of letting ourselves be human. I'm Italian by blood, my mother's Italian, and I love food, I'm not leaning towards being a breatharian, and I like a glass of wine here and there as much as anyone, I let myself be human. There was a time in my life where I was much more strict on myself and I didn't let my, I had a raw food phase in my life and different things work for different people.
I also met a really incredible biochemist who spoke on health boards in the States, and he said that he was a naturopath biochemist, and he said the least healthiest people that he saw on his practice were very strict vegans and vegetarians, because they weren't giving themselves permission to eat in the way that their ancestors ate or to give their bodies what they needed, weren't eating in a very balanced way.
And I find that what we're really leaning towards is working with the intelligence and the technology that we already are, and that, we'll not just be able to heal ourselves of certain things that arise for us personally, but that we'll be able to share hands-on healing in a much more dynamic way for our friends and family, and that we'll be space holders and healers for each other, and that those people that we go to have done so much, or enough work on themselves just to be able to be humble and grounded enough to tune into the things that might be off a little bit, and that space holding and that guidance back into the wholeness of life is just all that's needed.
That's what I’ve seen to be, up to now, the most beneficial thing. I think it's much more important how we breathe and how we eat. Obviously, it's important how we eat and all things have their place in the pie, the whole pie, the whole picture about wellness. There's different sections in that – our connection with our purpose, our connection with friends and family, our connection with our spiritual practice, our connection with the earth and with nature. All of these things, I think we're coming around full circle to realize how much more we want to simplify our lives, and that it's not about material success. And sure, we have the best medicine and best emergency care that we've ever had, and we're going to be able to keep the things that belong.
But there seems like there's a merging now, the east and the west, the spiritual and the medical, and we're going to be able to utilize those things together. I heard a fabulous chat between Zach Bush and Aubrey Marcus, which some of you might have heard and look it up if you haven't heard it, cause to hear Zach Bush talk about where we're really going with the medicine of the future, it's just – the guy's just phenomenal.
Aubrey Marcus sat there afterwards and he was like, holy shit man, how do you do that, time and time again. But that's my feeling, it was really beautiful to hear that confirmation that we're just scratching the surface of our potential, not just the brain’s potential, but our potential to heal anything, or to move anything, to move mountains. It's a fascinating time brother, and it's a great time of awakening, it's a great shift of the ages who are moving from one paradigm into another, and the paradigm that I see is a paradigm of togetherness, walking each other, hand in hand and helping each other out.
Pascal: Absolutely. And you're playing a key role in this new paradigm by having trained hundreds of people through the Breathwave program. I’ve been through level one, level two, and we had multiple Nectara people there this summer and more are coming, and just everyone there, and everyone I’ve heard of about this training has just been, A plus, plus, like beautiful, wonderful experience of transformation and deepening of their personal paths. And personally for me, it's changed my life over two weeks of training, and I'd love for the people out there who don't know about your training to learn a bit more what is it, like, how long is it, where is it, how do people sign up, cause I really believe it's a gift to the world. So yeah, thanks for making it happen, really.
Robin: Thank you brother. It's such a joy. Every training is so unique, and the more that I bring us together, the less I have to say because everyone is just so incredible that shows up and you guys just all weave the magic. Of course, it needs a little guidance, but it just weaves itself now. And the new location that we found is on Vancouver Island. We'd love to get up to the Kootenays and be with you at some point next year. That's a goal and an intention, but the first level is five days for yourself, it's two sessions based on the element of the day.
So we start with the earth, we connect with our physical body, and the way council is brought in a way that asks everyone to share what's on their heart, what's alive for them in regards to that element, what's their prayer for the earth, what's your prayer for the water, what's your prayer for the fire, what do you want to ask of the fire to bring more alive in your life. The fourth day is the heart, what's the longing in your heart, or what's the answer to the longing in your heart. And the fifth day is our highest expression, it's about more about the throat and coming up into the higher shock growth. So it's such a unique journey that, I can't put into words, because it's different every time.
But it's evolved a lot over the years and it's a combination of the different things that I’ve been shared – that have been shared with me, that have really brought me home to myself. One of them being what we might call yoga. We just encourage people to move in a way that they feel like they want to move of, let go of guiding and teaching a yoga practice, cause who am I to tell people how they're supposed to move. But everyone has gotten a little bit of yoga guidance these days, so we'll do at least to [inaudible] so however your body wants to move for an hour. And then, we breathe for 20 to 30 minutes. That's just in the morning.
And then we're nourished by really incredible, mostly organic, mostly local – this time of year, as we get into winter, it's a little hard to stay local, but our cook that shows up for us every time is phenomenal, and we're nourished in a really beautiful way, and we're together for about 10 hours a day in circle. So the way that we're held in community is like the old days. We, create the old utopia of ceremony and village in a very short period of time. And how people fall in love with each other and with themselves again, and they're held and seen for who they really are and not for who their stories are, it's a really beautiful thing.
And yeah, it's my favorite thing that I do. I love it as much as being with my children. We have a training that's full coming up here in November, and then, our schedule's always up on the Breathwave website. January and February, we have a training. I’m looking at maybe leaning towards you in March, but I’m taking March off, and we have about 13 weeks of training throughout the year. So there's plenty of opportunity, it's quite possible in the spring that we'll go back to Mexico, and offer a training there.
We'll see how things are on the land, getting 10 acres in the rainforest is a bit of a project, but things are moving in a good way. We just decided to slow down and just build a humble addition on our trailer, which feels really good just to be able to listen to the land, to the water, and where the sun lands. We were going to jump right in and build a house, and it just, it feels important just to listen.
Yeah, we had plenty of bears, plenty of elk, some big ceremonies. I just got blessing from the local elders to build a sweat lodge. So we'll be sharing some ceremonies out there. And we have a beautiful community called the Shire right next to us, they have a year and they have a little school with about 15 kids where my daughter's going to school now a few days a week, and the prayer and intention and vision is to eventually, within the next couple of years, have a space where we can accommodate everyone and have our own temple space there on the land. And we're only about 20 minutes from Duncan, which is about an hour from either the [inaudible] Victoria, which is a short ferry from Vancouver.
So pretty accessible for anyone in the world to come and journey, especially as the borders are open now. We've mostly just been receiving Canadians, as people haven't wanted to follow instructions in order to travel. And it's a non-discriminating space where we accept everyone, no matter what the choices are. It's a different world every day. Now we're creating a brand new space and it takes a tribe – it takes a tribe to raise a child, it takes a village.
And that's the vision. I’d love to see more people living like that. I encourage everyone to connect with the people that they resonate with at this time, and be with like-minded people so you feel supported and held in community, whether it's just going to a yoga class once a week or actually coming together and finding some elders that are doing ceremonies and bringing people together so you can gather and lay down your prayers, and speak those things that hurt and speak those things that you want to see.
We find more and more as we communicate with life, which is my definition of prayer, that what we ask is given, and that's a law. This land showed up because we asked for it, and we got clear about what we wanted, and it was pretty quick. So if there's ways that you know, and just, speaking to the audience, if there's ways that you know that you've been holding yourself back or limiting what you know you're capable of in this life, step into it. There's a game of survival that's crumbling and it's going to make it much more easy for us to share our services with one another, and have everyone meet on an even plane, as these systems of corruption continue to crumble around us. There's an integration period here, I assume for the next few years still, that's not going to be easy coming out of this tunnel.
But here we are, we've always had everything we needed, and everyone's got a unique gift to share with the world. And if you've been keeping that in your closet or under your bed, bring it out, polish it, continue to play those instruments and get good at that. That way that you love to just be of service to mankind, to men and women, and bring it out. You’d amazed at how fulfilling it is to have people reflect back to you the appreciation for what you've given them and how it's changed their life. Everyone's got a magical gift to share, that's what makes the world a beautiful place.
Pascal: Yeah, and the Breathwave training is a beautiful container to explore that as a channel for service with people. So the level one is personal journeying, and level two is one on one facilitation. And then, level three is a ceremonial group facilitation, and you're thinking about level four and level five, which would be Tantra and singing as well vocal opening. And after tree levels and you've done level two twice, you basically have a career in your pockets, basically. You have the guidelines to start practicing, and then, be of service. And for anyone looking to be of service to the other people's path, then this is a beautiful container.
So people can look at the training at breathwave.net. You've got monthly breath works with Nectara every month online, which is a great way to try out the breath technique and experience Robin's facilitation and take a step in your journey in a facilitated and well-held space. And anything else you'd like to add Robin as an invitation to places you're at or things you have coming up or anything of that nature?
Robin: Pretty soon, I'll have the space to be able to connect with people online a little bit more. We've been off the grid for the summer, and I want to be able to light a fire inside here in the next couple of weeks and connect the internet. So I'm always happy to connect with people, and I have been really effectively sharing one on one sessions online if you want to connect with me personally. But yeah, I'd love to see you in person, I’m not feeling called to do or offer the facilitation training online. I don't feel that it's thorough enough. I'm a physical body worker, I like to teach people how to touch and how to get into the tissues to facilitate breath work, and I just love the experience of us being together in person.
So I’m not feeling drawn at all toward to teaching the facilitator training online, maybe some advanced counseling in regards to people that are already trained as facilitators and the way that we can get together, and we do that as a community, as a global community. But yeah, I just encourage everyone to be yourself, and forgive your parents.
Pascal: Beautiful. Said. Thank you so much, Robin, really appreciate your time and energy. And thank you so much for the work you do, it's really helped changed a lot of lives, and yeah, really appreciate your humbleness and your dedication to your work. It's beautiful to see.
Robin: Thank you so much.
Thank you, brother. It's a joy and an honor to be part of Nectara. Thanks for all you do.
Thank you. Take care of yourself.